Last year’s winner of the Jewish Community Center’s battle of the
bands, White Picket Fence, entered for a simple reason: They needed the
prize money. The $100 they won helped the Marcellus and Camillus
alt-rockers record their first CD, Willowmakers, at the Square Studio
On June 5, all decked out for their senior balls, White Picket Fence
won the Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Music Award (Sammy) for Best
New Artist and the Best Pop CD category. And now, they’re on tour in
Florida, slowly making their way back to Central New York after a Jan.
17 gig in Maryland. And it all started at DeWitt’s JCC.
“Winning the battle of the bands was our first real success,” says
singer Elise Miklich, talking on a cell phone inside the band’s
glamorous 1995 Chevy conversion van/tour bus. “It was when we realized
the people actually liked us. That really gave us the confidence to go
on and do all the other things we’ve done. That win sparked our
motivation to try to do bigger and better things.”
Success at the next level is likely a reason some of the 10 bands
entered the 2010 version of the battle of the bands, the JCC’s eighth
annual high school music blowout. For others it could be the chance to
try out what they’ve got in front of a vocal and enthusiastic crowd.
And the odds of winning, one in 10, aren’t so shabby either. In fact,
the top three bands, as selected by the judges, will have another
opportunity to play when the JCC opens a teen center at Shoppingtown
“Any style of music is welcome,” explains Lori Innella-Venne, who
organizes the event. “The only thing we review is lyrics. We had a
record number of people interested this year—14 bands applied and the
first 10 to meet the deadline got in.”
The event kicks off at 7 p.m. and every band gets 30 minutes on stage,
including setup and breakdown. The order of bands is randomly selected.
The last band goes on at 11:30 p.m. Judges this year are Michael “Tots”
Heagerty and Emmett VanSlyke from the Redhouse and Jeremy Johnston from
SubCat Recording Studio. Grand prize is $200, a video shoot donated by
the Redhouse and studio recording time from SubCat.
All 10 bands, which must be composed mostly of high school students,
will receive a DVD/CD recording from the event. Not only does the
battle of the bands raise money for the JCC, but it’s a way for each
band’s home school to earn some cash as well—$1 from each ticket sold
gets donated back to each school’s student council.
“This is my fourth year involved with the battle of the bands,” says
Innella-Venne, “and my third year running it and it’s becoming more
popular each year. When I came on board I thought it was important to
not just have a place for high school kids to go to play or hear live
music, I also thought it was important to make it a true musical event.”
The 10 bands competing this year are: SEB from Bishop Grimes High
School and Christian Brothers Academy; Sovereign from Tully High
School; Brickyard Falls from Fayetteville-Manlius High School; Crimson
Six and Cinema Chaos from Jamesville-DeWitt High School; Chains of
Honor from Cicero-North Syracuse High School (CNS); Potentially
Essential from Onondaga Central High School; Roman Revival from
Baldwinsville’s C.W. Baker High School; The Soul Within from Liverpool
High School; and Seventeen Come Sunday from CNS and Onondaga Community
The eighth annual JCC Battle of the Bands takes place Saturday, Jan.
16, 7 p.m., in the Schayes Family Gymnasium, 5655 Thompson Road,
DeWitt. Admission is $6; $9 for VIP view. For more information, call